Shadow and Bone, a young adult fantasy novel series written by Leigh Bardugo, follows the story of Alina Starkov, a teenage girl heading into battle for her war-torn country, alongside her childhood best friend. However, in the heat of a dangerous attack, Alina and her comrades discover that she is far more powerful than she seems. Now thrust into a complicated and friendless world of politics, superhumans, and terrifying creatures, Alina must fight to keep her head above the water and her power out of the wrong hands.
Shadow and Bone author Leigh Bardugo signing copies of her books.
There are many twists and turns throughout this series, and it does a good job of keeping the reader on their toes. However, the most impressive part is the detail and development of the universe that the author achieves. Each race and land has its own distinct culture and beliefs, and a journey in the story feels as treacherous and spanning to the reader as it does to the characters. The villains and threats feel authentic, and the supporting characters add a lot of their own pasts and personality to the story, instead of just helping the protagonist and falling flat on their own.
The full Shadow and Bone trilogy.
One thing that I really loved about this series is its exploration of religion. I believe that it is very hard for a young adult fantasy novel to stand out, as many fall into the same tropes that have become cliché for readers. The religious aspect of this series is what really made it stand out to me. In any land, it is only sensible to acknowledge that there would be religious groups and services accompanying the culture of the area. Bardugo’s use of these organizations helped the world expand immensely and added interesting twists to the plot that really made this series stand out.